2013 was a big year for social media advertising.
The first Pinterest advertisements went live in October.
Instagram announced plans to include sponsored posts in feeds.
But one of the biggest things to hit social media marketing: video ads. Speculation about video advertisements reached nearly all the major social networks this year, and a few even began to implement them toward the end of 2013.
Why exactly is video making such a stir in social media advertising?
For one, it’s interactive. Videos are more engaging than text, and social platforms make it even easier for consumers to find and connect with brands. And with millions and even billions of users, social media sites continue to reach an increasingly huge audience.
So—which social media sites have video marketing in the works for 2014?
After nearly a year of deliberation and debate, Facebook finally began selling video advertisements in late 2013. The ads, which are currently being tested in small market groups, play automatically (and initially without volume) in users’ newsfeeds; users can stop the ads by scrolling past them.
Whether Facebook video ads are successful or not has yet to be determined. In a November 2013 survey, 83% of Facebook users reported that they would find video ads “intrusive.” Facebook has yet to announce when (and if) it will expand the ads.
Did you know? Companies still waiting on video ads could take advantage of a loophole that social advertising company Moontoast found for Toyota—pulling video content from Instagram and integrating it into Facebook as an unofficial ad.
Google+ may never beat Facebook in numbers, but Google is giving the social media giant a run for its money with recently rolled-out video advertisements.
Companies can now pay Google to distribute any of their Google+ posts—including photos, videos and even Hangouts—across its network. These advertisements (Google calls them “social ads”) are designed for interactivity, allowing users to comment on posts, join Hangouts or interact with brands. And the ads won’t just be found in Google+ feeds—they’ll be visible across the whole Web.
Did you know? Toyota, Ritz and Cadbury are currently running Google+ ads in testing mode. And with a user base and network the size of Google’s, they’re likely to be successful.
2013 was a year of firsts for Instagram. The photo-sharing site introduced 15-second videos for users this summer and then announced that it would begin selling photo and video ads to brands in late 2013.
The site is doing its best to make the integration of ads as easy as possible for users. Ads are clearly marked with a “Sponsored” tag. Users can hide ads as well as tailor the ads they see by providing feedback (positive or negative). Instagram also assured users that ads would start with just a few of the site’s best brands.
Did you know? Companies using the service, including Levi’s and Ben and Jerry’s, reported increases in ad recall and brand message awareness. Though the results aren’t conclusive, Instagram calls the reports “promising.”
It doesn’t have quite the name recognition of Facebook or Instagram, but mobile photo and video-sharing app Snapchat is proving to be a great potential medium for social video marketing.
Snapchat is a little different from most social networks—it’s more like a mobile messenger. Users can use the app to send photos and brief videos to their friends, but the content disappears from recipients’ phones in one to 10 seconds. Currently, brands can only send “snaps” to users that make their usernames available to them, but it’s likely that Snapchat will serve native advertisements to all users sometime soon.
Did you know? Taco Bell and frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles are among the brands that have successfully used Snapchat to debut new products or dispense coupons via Snapchat, and others are likely to follow suit.
With big names like Facebook and Google and up-and-comers like Snapchat getting in on the video advertisement game, expect video ads on social media to explode in 2014.
Kelley McGrath is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University. She is currently working as a digital marketing professional and freelance writer specializing in social media and sports tech. You can follow her on Twitter at @KelleyAnneMac.